By Jason Powell
WWE Battleground has been overshadowed by the WWE Draft. WWE tried to prevent that from happening by keeping the hype for the draft to a minimum until go-home week, yet everything still had a lame duck feel, including the build to these matches even though they are actually taking place after the draft. It’s not that Battleground doesn’t have the potential to be a good show, it’s just that I can’t shake the desire of getting through this show so that we can get to true brand split. Still, Battleground feels less predictable than most WWE events.
Dean Ambrose vs. Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins in a Triple Threat for the WWE Championship: The big question is what WWE intends to do with the champions. Will they float between brands? Will there be new champions created? I can’t see them having a brand without a world title, nor can I see the point of having tag teams and women fight for nothing because their respective title is on the other brand. Thus, my guard is up for a scenario that results two champions. If one champion emerges from this, then I’ll go with Rollins sneaking out with the title since he just lost on Smackdown. It’s just too soon in Roman’s redemption story to put the title on him. Of course it would be great if they gave up on the redemption story and turned him heel coming off the Wellness Policy suspension, but Vince can be one stubborn man.
Seth Rollins wins the WWE Championship.
Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens: Is it the final match? They initially billed this as the final match of the feud, but last week Zayn recently made it seem like it would only be the final match if they ended up on opposite brands. Both men ended up on Raw, so I’m guessing the initial sales pitch isn’t in play. I don’t think anyone will complain about Zayn and Owens working more matches together. If creative shows discipline, they can get so much more out of this feud by going back to it when the time is right. I don’t have a strong feeling regarding the outcome of this particular match. Owens winning in a heelish manner and then having Zayn beg for another match makes sense to me. My dark horse pick is Owens blows a gasket in reaction to being drafted lower than Zayn and gets himself disqualified to set up a SummerSlam rematch.
Kevin Owens wins.
John Cena, Enzo Amore, and Big Cass vs. AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson: I am very intrigued by this match and the draft actually plays a big part in that. It was surprising to see Styles drafted to Smackdown only to have Gallows and Anderson drafted to Raw. I’ve been saying for weeks that I would love to see WWE give the trio an edge by having them refuse to comply with the brand split rules by showing up whenever and wherever they want until they force a trade. However, I have no idea whether that’s the approach they are taking. If they are going separate ways, then I assume there will be some sort of friction between The Club members that leads to the babyface trio winning.
John Cena, Enzo Amore, and Big Cass win.
The Highlight Reel with Chris Jericho interviewing Randy Orton: The only question here is how many RKO’s will Chris Jericho take. I’m setting the over/under at 2.5.
Sasha Banks and a partner to be named vs. Charlotte and Dana Brooke: Did WWE hold off on Bayley so that she could make a surprise appearance? Let’s hope so because the crowd could be tough on someone else. Nikki Bella is in play after she showed that she was working out at the WWE Performance Center if she’s fudging about the part that she’s just beginning to work out in the ring for her return. Regardless, I like that this is a nice hook for the show. I don’t know if anyone would have cared about a mystery Diva being teased a few years ago unless there was a strong hint that Lita or Trish Stratus were in play. I’m picking with my heart by going with Bayley. Either way, I suspect Sasha beats Charlotte to set up their SummerSlam match.
Sasha Banks and her partner win.
Kofi Kingston, Big E, and Xavier Woods vs. Bray Wyatt, Erick Rowan, and Braun Strowman: The Wyatt Family split points towards a New Day win. I’m curious to see whether Wyatt and Rowan turn on Strowman now that he’s leaving the nest or if he will see the light and abandon them first. It’s too soon for Luke Harper to return based on his initial prognosis, so I see New Day going over. Normally, it would be premature for New Day to win the feud, but with them on Raw while Wyatt and Rowan are on Smackdown, this would seem to be the blowoff. It is worth noting that while the brand split should go into play tomorrow, SummerSlam will feature both brands. I certainly wouldn’t go back to having crossover matches, but there’s nothing saying WWE won’t do it.
New Day wins.
Becky Lynch vs. Natalya: Do they justify the early draft pick spent on Lynch by having her go over or do they have Natalya go over to keep their feud going? When in doubt, go with the scenario that makes a McMahon look intelligent.
Becky Lynch wins.
The Miz vs. Darren Young for the Intercontinental Title: The Smackdown authority figures went out of their way to get The Miz to get the Intercontinental Title on their brand. Young ended up on the Raw brand. Barring a surprise win for Ryder that would bring the U.S. Title to Smackdown, I see Miz retaining his title for Smackdown.
The Miz retains the Intercontinental Title.
Rusev vs. Zack Ryder for the U.S. Championship: Ryder’s NXT tag team partner was just drafted to Smackdown, so Ryder doesn’t need a singles title.
The Usos vs. Tyler Breeze and Fandango: WWE has a nice heel tag team with Breeze and Fandango, but they’re too focussed on playing up their over the top characters. Tone down the cheesy elements and they could be a quality team. Unfortunately, I fear that what really could be a good match will also be overshadowed by Breezango silliness.
The Usos win.
Powell’s Bold Predictions for WWE Battleground
-I will not have a good night of prognosticating. This show feels tougher to call than usual. Yes, I just told you to brace for the worst after having you read all of those predictions above. Hey, at least I’m honest.
-The oddsmakers have Darren Young listed as the favorite to win the IC Title match. Perhaps their philosophy is when it doubt, go with the scenario that makes Stephanie look smarter than Shane. If so, that’s not a bad philosophy.
-WWE will tell us the brand split actually goes into effect next week. I hope not. We don’t need cheesy goodbye speeches from wrestlers leaving one brand for the other.
-Mick Foley will make it through this show without being browbeat by Stephanie. All bets are off beginning tomorrow night.
-WWE will announce a WWE Network price increase before SummerSlam while pointing out that you’ll be getting twice as many pay-per-views most months thanks to split brand shows.